2014, Part 1: The Stalkening
Fair warning: This is a hell of a long post, and it’s only part of my long, eventful, crazy year. I’m writing this to show people what I’ve been going through this year. My next 2014 post will be a lot more cheerful, because of the many great things that have happened to me, but this has to be told sometime.
One of the bigger events of the year, I kept mostly quiet on, until now. An aunt of mine, who was once a very close friend of mine, did her best to make my life a living hell. She has been for quite some time. Ever since I left that toxic church five years ago, in fact. I’ve had to change my online usernames multiple times to avoid her harassment. I’ve blocked her in many places, but I’ve decided I’m done running and hiding, and I’m just going to live my life however is best for me. If she wants to expend the energy in seeking me out, that’s her decision. I’m not going to expend the energy in hiding myself.
She’s been stalking me and attempting to turn my parents and I against each other for the past five years (in the rest of this post, she’ll be referred to as the stalker). It worked for a while, but my parents and I took the time to talk and iron things out. We may disagree with each other on quite a few life values and choices, but I’m glad that we’ve learned to find what we do have in common.
However, this year, that stalker tried again. She felt that there was some information about my life that could ruin me, and my relationship with my parents and extended family. At the Independence Day barbecue at my parents house, it came to a head. I’ll tell my story here.
I was not told she was going to be there, but once I found out, I decided to be civil. I told my mom I would avoid drama, though pointed out that I wasn’t the one that started it any time before. The last time I had seen her, at an event honoring my grandpa, she had quite literally acted as though I didn’t exist, and went so far as to try and physically grab my brother’s arm and drag him away from me while I was in the middle of talking to him. This time was no different, but I attempted to offer a live-and-let-live scenario. I said hello, without an answer. I asked how she was doing, and she pretended not to hear me. I decided I’d made my effort, so I was going to leave her alone after that.
A few other members of my extended family were there, and so I spent time catching up with them and sharing my wedding plans, and photos of things that I’d already picked out. I was showing pictures of my wedding dress and the venue to another aunt and I was trying to include the stalker, so I showed her. She said, “That’s nice. Is your girlfriend going to be your bridesmaid?” I parsed ‘girlfriend’ as in best friend that is a girl. So I responded, “Well, my best friend is my maid of honor, and a really good friend is my other bridesmaid. “Oh, well, what about your secondary?” I was still confused. “No, I’m not having a second bridesmaid.” “Not even your partner?” Then it clicked. She was trying to tell me she had been stalking me, and was now blackmailing me and attempting to out me so that I would be shunned by my family. She smiled cheerfully. I smiled back. “All the important people in my life will be there” “Your parents?” “Of course.” “Oh really?” She got up and walked inside.
This is where I interrupt the story to lay out the explanation. At the time, I did have a girlfriend. You see, I’m bisexual and polyamorous. For those that are unfamiliar with the term, polyamory is the idea and practice that you can love more than one person, and that ethical non-monogamy is something that some people can do quite happily. The term “ethical non-monogamy” differentiates it from cheating because everyone involved knows. It’s not a secret between any partners, and everyone agrees to relationship boundaries that are safe, fair, and good for everyone. I don’t expect everyone to understand or approve, but that’s the way it is for me and my husband. I don’t shout it from the rooftops, but I don’t expect to have to hide this core part of myself either. And for the record, I currently have other partners, but I’m currently just friends with the woman I called my girlfriend at the time.
At the time of this story, I hadn’t told many people. There were some friends I could trust with this information, and for the most part I was out at work. I hadn’t told any family, particularly my parents, for multiple reasons. For one thing, they are very religious and I knew that they would be unhappy with it. For another, they don’t tell me what goes on in their relationship or bedroom, and I didn’t expect to have to tell them what went on for me.
This being the context, I was very surprised that she brought it up and knew. That’s when I realized she had once again found my new username online, and had been following me on online communities for polyamorous people. I also realized that the question was a not-so-veiled threat – she was going to tell my parents, in the hopes that it would cause them to cut me off.
I walked away to calm down. I was shaking and furious. I realized I had two choices: Either stay quiet and she would tell them, or I would have to tell them myself. I went inside and I found her talking alone with my mom in the kitchen. Here is how the conversation went down, best as I can remember (I wrote it down from memory the day after, so some phrasing may not be accurate, but it’s as close as I can get):
Me: Why are you stalking me again?
Her: I don’t know what you’re talking about *mock surprise*
Mom: What’s this about? I thought you said no drama.
Me: She is the one that initiated the drama, I will tell you what’s going on in a minute. [To stalker] Where are you stalking me?
Me: Well since I changed my name you must have done an awful lot of work trying to stalk me again.
Her: So why don’t you tell your mom? What are you hiding from her? [to Mom] She has been lying to and deceiving you.
Mom: What’s going on?
Her: Tell her. I have screenshots to prove all of this.
Mom: Stop this, you’re not being helpful.
Me: I’ll tell her. Right now.
Mom: Do you want to go into another room to talk to me?
Me: No, I’ll tell you in front of her. I’m dating someone else as well, and [Fiancé] knows about it as well.
Her: [look of shock that I said something]
Mom: [to stalker] Please leave, you’re going about this in a horrible way .
Her: [lip and hands start trembling] I’m trying to help you understand she’s deceiving you!
Me: [Notices trembling] What are you afraid of?
Her: Nothing. YOU are the one should be afraid.
Me: Why are you shaking?
Her: …I always start shaking when I’m dealing with PEOPLE LIKE YOU.
Mom: Leave. We don’t need you for this conversation. You are not being helpful.
Her: I’m just trying to do my job. As a Good Christian I am obligated to tell you she’s deceiving you.
Me: Your job? Who hired you?
Her: WHO HIRED ME? I…
Mom interrupts: Leave.
The stalker went outside and I was left in the kitchen with my mom. I was afraid of what would happen next, that I would be the next one to be asked to leave. Instead, my mom hugged me and said she loved me. She said she didn’t understand the choices I make, but the stalker was horrible for bringing it up this way.
I spent some time talking to her after, making a brief explanation. She asked me what I would need, and I asked that the stalker be asked to leave. She nodded, and said that she would talk to my dad and tell him for me because she didn’t know how dad would react to what they now know about me, and knew that her telling him would probably be best. So I went outside to calm down, away from the group where the stalker was talking. A few minutes later I saw mom and dad come out so I went over and mom said, “Dad knows, we are going to ask [the stalker] to leave.” and Dad hugged me. I started crying from relief because, though I know they weren’t happy in the slightest, they chose me over the person who belonged to their church. This is something I never expected.
Mom asked the stalker to come inside and I barely overheard the conversation. The parts I overheard were mom saying “You need to leave.” and the stalker attempting to apologize but my mom wasn’t hearing it. And she left.
I was left to have a hard conversation with my parents later but it went as well as I could ever expect. They lectured me that my life of sin will lead to misery, but they still love me and as long as I don’t try to push this on them or tell them anything about it (which was my plan anyways), then we’re fine.
A few days after this, I met with a lawyer to send a cease and desist to the stalker, telling her to lay off of following me around the ‘net and attempting to fuck with my family relationships (though in legalese). Instead of stopping, she responded not only to the lawyer, but also sending a copy of her response to all of my aunts and uncles, as well as my parents. Via certified mail. The response was, to put it kindly, a bit insane. Most of the letter was screenshots of my old Reddit account where I posted about being poly and, horror of horrors, having watched porn. She also railed about me leading a sinful life and she was obligated by God to tell everyone about it.
I looked into getting a restraining order, but I eventually decided not to bother, and to do this instead:
I’m not hiding. I’m not going anywhere. If she wants to continue to follow me online, then go ahead. I have nothing to hide. I do nothing illegal, and I hurt no one. Hell, if she wants, I’ll link her to my new Reddit profile, where she can read more about me being poly and what my porn habits are. It’s none of her business and no one will care if she’s going to try and tattle, least of all me.